Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Please note that all times are shown in the time zone of the conference. The current conference time is: 27th Jan 2022, 04:23:22am EET

Session Overview
Paper Presentation Session 19: Social Work with Children, Young People and Their Families
Friday, 18/June/2021:
10:45am - 12:15pm

Location: Parallel Session 1

Session Chair: Silvia Fargion

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Supporting Resilience in Youth (ages 16-23) Transitioning into Adulthood

Marte Wiersma, Roel Van Goor, Mark Van Dijk, Judith Van Vliet

Inholland University of Applied Sciences

The transition to adulthood can be a challenging and turbulent time in the lives of young people. Without adequate support, some of these youngsters are at risk of developing severe problems in multiple domains of their life. The way formal support and care is currently organized in the Netherlands, however, fails to provide the support they need. Available youth services are fragmented, problem oriented, and often interrupted when turning 18.

In our research project ‘Supporting youngsters on their way to adulthood’ we try to establish which factors contribute to youth services that match the specific needs and characteristics of young people in transition to adulthood. In the past two years we conducted over 140 interviews and collected 600 questionnaires from youngsters aged between 16 and 23 years old growing up in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Haarlem. All respondents appeal to youth support services. In this presentation we focus on the results of 44 interviews with youngsters aged 16 and 17.

In analyzing our data we used Michael Ungar’s ecological approach on resilience for structuring and interpreting the results in terms of three types of resources that youth can turn to and deploy when confronted with challenges, i.e.: individual, relational and contextual resources. We conclude that:

- Individual resources are motivation and confidence that help youngsters to take matters in their own hands and deal with problems.

- Relational resources are the emotional and practical support from parents, close family and friends.

- Contextual resources exist in the availability of a supporting structure of social workers that are easily accessible, have excellent relational skills and are intrinsically motivated to accompany young people during this crucial life stage.

- The young people in our study report being especially helped by social workers who present practical information and solutions, and have a mandate to actually contribute to realizing these solutions crossing disciplinary and sectoral boundaries within the current formal support system.

Our findings show that for young people who are in need of any type of support, schools play a crucial role in finding or being directed to the right kind of care or support.

Child-centred Approach in the Context of Shared Parenting: Parents’ Experiences with Bird’s Nest Parenting Arrangement

Rafaela Lehtme

Tallinn University, Estonia

The number of children affected by family dissolution is increasing worldwide. Growing number of parents who wish to stay active in their children’s lives post-separation has remarkably raised the practice of shared care. Though a positive phenomenon, it has brought along new dilemmas, like the controversy of travelling children – “visitors” moving back and forth between parents’ households. This trend is strongly linked to decreased child well-being, further deepening various problems. The article describes empirical results of a qualitative study on Estonian parents using birdnest arrangement – a form of shared parenting, where children stay in one place and parents take turns living with them, adapting to children’s needs. While considered a uniquely child-centered solution, the topic is still academically underresearched. Therefore, the aim of the study was to explore experiences of nesting parents, to gain insight of nesting’s supportive factors relating to child’s best interest. Parents were recruited through purposive sampling; in-depth semi-structured interviews were used to gather data in 2020.

Findings indicate that nesting was guided by parents’ will to act in best interest of children, who should not suffer when parent do not want to live together at home anymore. Preserving familiar environment and minimizing adjustment problems were perceived as main strengths. Physical setting was found to have a profound impact on all aspects of child’s health and well-being. The arrangement was perceived as beneficial for the whole family and had proved suitable both short and long-term. Parents’ inner balance with open-minded and forgiving mindset, financial independence and equal sharing of expenses were crucial in functioning of the arrangement.

Societies need to acknowledge vast disruption divorced children are exposed to and strive for more child-friendly solutions. Though seemingly an idealistic utopia, nesting nonetheless appears to be a viable alternative for divorced families.

"The construction of a social integration model with Unaccompanied Foreign Minors and Young Adults within the Juvenile Justice in Italy"

Laura Pinna, Ilaria Coppola, Nadia Rania

University of Genoa, Departement of Education Sciences, Italy

The Italian Juvenile Criminal Justice services, which also deal with probation, have the task of accompanying every minor who enters the criminal circuit on a path of help and social reintegration. This should support him towards a rapid exit from the criminal circuit, from a context of deviance and build an adequate life path, through a work of co-construction of alternatives and possibilities, also involving the family and the social network to which he belongs. The situation of Unaccompanied Foreign Minors is in itself a situation of disadvantage and vulnerability. For the social workers who take care of them it can be a source of greater stress, burnout or a sense of helplessness with respect to potential projects or interventions towards such minors who they are often more relevant to minors with more regular living conditions, such as Italians or second generation minors. We want to bring the results of the research conductedwith social workers and Unaccompanied Foreign Minors within the Italian Probation Services. The experience of the social workers who work in the Italian Juvenile Justice services, but also how they face the challenge of building a path of help with unaccompanied foreign minors who have no family, social or emotional references in the context of reception, a path that goes beyond the predictions of the above-mentioned “standard” situations can highlight the awareness of starting parallel paths, different but also similar to what is done with accompanied boys and girls.

Representations of parenting in high conflict families: professionals and parents views

Silvia Fargion, Teresa Bertotti, Giulia Moretto, Diletta Mauri

Università di Trento, Italy

High conflict in divorce and separation, presents huge challenges to all subjects involved, as well as to all professionals engaged in supporting parents and their children in such circumstances. Research has little explored the issue of how, on one hand, parents face their tasks when in such a relational turmoil, and how, on the other, professionals are cognizant and in contact with parents’ experiences. In our presentation we intend to discuss the first outcomes from a research project, “Constructions of parenting on insecure grounds”, which aims to be a contribution to filling this void and to provide an understanding of parents’ perception of their role, and to compare parents' and professional representations.

Referring to a participatory approach, the study, conducted in Italy, was designed with the support of an advisory board of 5 parents. By now it has involved 37 professionals in semi-structured interviews and focus groups, and 33 parents, both mothers and fathers, in in-depth qualitative interviews.

The first analysis of interviews’ transcripts, using a grounded theory approach, shows how there are relevant clashes in perspective between professionals and parents. Interviews with parents highlight the social pressures that parents perceive, the high level of anxiety in relation to children, the complexities of dealing with the daily tasks of parenting, and particularly the role played by the gender dimension. Comparing parents’ perceptions with those of professionals, we found that the professional approach is affected by a sort of ‘tunnel vision’, as they seem to consider only what is related to the conflict, but are mostly blind to the anxieties, worries and pressure perceived by parents.

On one hand social workers think that their main task is to deal with the conflict, and because of that they feel the necessity for further preparation on this, on the other hand, parents express the need of being supported in raising their children.

Considering this gap in perspective, our research highlights the importance of a shift in social work approach. The paper will highlight the main points of this change relevant for social workers’ training and the value of involving parents in this training.

New Ways Towards an Integrative Child Protection from the Paternalistic Child Protection

Andrea Rácz

Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary

We have limited information about the relationship between the quality of the social and child protection system and the chances of social mobility and how the social system can contribute to improving the well-being of the clients and how the system limits it with exclusionary procedures in Hungary. The core aspect of the child welfare and protection thought focusing on the family, and channelling community resources, is that in order to preserve the unity of the family, it is necessary to widely introduce from the local community the services into the family’s life, thus mobilizing the internal resources of the family, and acknowledging parenting, as a social value. Integrative child protection is a multidisciplinary and multidimensional process. The research examines how the Hungarian child protection professionals in child welfare services and centers, child protection institutions and foster care system reflect on the professional work. It focused on the family concept of child protection professionals and their views of the clients that can be deducted from this concept. The research also examines the notion and functions of the family as children, young people and their parents themselves perceive these.

The research results show that due to the diversity and complexity of the problems of families in the purview of the child protection system one cannot reflect on professional solutions along types of problems. Successful functioning and efficient child protection relies rather on revealing individual and specific needs. All this indicates that child welfare and child protection work is possible only with clients and families with personal storie.

(This research was supported by OTKA Young Researcher Fellowship with the following research projects: Domonkos Sik: Solidarity in Late Modernity and Eszter Berényi: Being left behind by the state and leaving the state behind – privatization, exit strategies, white flight in education and in other public services in early childhood.)

The role of family relationships and peer pressure on binge drinking among adolescent girls and boys

Adrian Emanuel Sârbu, Adrian Lavinia Bulumac, Florin Lazar

University of Bucharest

While binge drinking among adolescents is a significant problem in Romania, there has been little recent research into protective and risk factors in the Romanian context. The quality and type of relationships with family and peers contribute, together with psychological traits to the onset of risk behaviors among urban adolescents.

A representative sample of 15-16 years old students from Bucharest (n=2595, 1257 boys and 1338 girls) completed a paper-based questionnaire in November 2016. Two multivariate logistic regression analyses for girls (Model 1) and for boys (Model 2) were performed to identify risk factors associated with binge drinking (Nagelkerke R square = 0.364 for Model 1 and 0.470 for Model 2). The study specifically explores factors such as family structure and management, parental tolerance of drinking, parenting and parent-child relationship, peer attitudes on alcohol use, peer deviance and greater identification with friends that use alcohol, self-esteem and gender differences risk factors and their association with adolescents` binge drinking (5 drinks for boys and 4 drinks for girls in about 2 hours).

Results indicated there are significant gender differences and similarities as well. Among the similarities we find the age they have first got drunk as a significant common predictive factor for binge drinking. Boys binge drinking behavior depends on the age they have first tasted alcohol and the delinquent activity they have had the last 12 months, while among girls the most significant predictors for binge drinking are the number of friends who drink alcohol and the parents’ reactions on them getting drunk. Whilst for boys, parental rule setting was the most significant family-related protective factor, for girls it was parental monitoring which prevented them from binge drinking. Peer influence seem to be most important for girls, whilst for boys engaging in a delinquent behavior is a risk factor for binge drinking.

The findings suggest that those working in the area of adolescent alcohol abuse should pay more attention to parental monitoring and parental rule setting, as these appear to play an important role in youths binge drinking behaviors, but also take into consideration gender differences to better tailor their interventions.

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